THE JUSTICE department filed charges in 2018 against two cops involved in the murder of two teens during an anti-drug operation. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN
By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter
A REGIONAL trial court has convicted a police officer of torture and planting of evidence in the killings of two teenagers during the previous administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
In a decision made public on Wednesday, the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Branch 122 sentenced the law enforcer to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison for torturing the teens and planting a .38 caliber firearm ammunition, packets of marijuana leaves and crystal meth at the crime scene.
“After a careful scrutiny of the records and evaluation of the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court is convinced that the prosecution was able to overcome its burden,” according to the ruling written by Presiding Judge Rodrigo F. Pascua, Jr.
The police officer was also ordered to pay the families of 19-year-old Carl Angelo M. Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo D. De Guzman for moral and exemplary damages totaling P2 million each.
In 2018, the Justice department filed charges before the court against two policemen involved in the murder of the two teens.
The court noted the other cop died of hepatitis in 2019 while in detention.
The Public Attorney’s Office forensic laboratory service director had testified before the court that Mr. Arnaiz sustained swelling, contusions and abrasions in his face due to blunt force, while Mr. De Guzman had stab wounds and abrasions on various body parts.
“The court holds that the foregoing narrations lead to a reasonable hypothesis that the evidence of physical torture sustained by the victims, were perpetrated by no other persons than the accused in this case,” the trial court said.
It added that the two police officers had the motive to plant the ammunition on Mr. Arnaiz to support their story of a shootout after Mr. Arnaiz supposedly robbed a taxi driver.
Another witness testified that the 19-year-old was handcuffed before being shot by the policemen.
Separate murder charges for the teenagers’ deaths are still pending before another trial court in Navotas City.
At least 25 police officers have been charged with murder in connection with ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s deadly drug war, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told the United Nations Human Rights Council this month.
An inter-agency task force on extralegal killings had investigated at least 17,000 cops, he added.
There were 221-drug-related killings from January to August this year, Human Rights Watch said in September, citing a joint study by the University of the Philippines and Belgium’s Ghent University.
National police chief Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr. told a press briefing last week that law enforcers had killed 46 suspects during illegal drug operations five months into President Ferdinand R. Marcos’ term.